Why Republicans don’t brag about their alternative to Obamacare

Unlike Obamacare, what Republicans want really would change health care as we know it:

Republicans have wisely decided to attack Obamacare without committing themselves to an alternative because the alternative would be easy to attack. Ponnuru, for instance, suggests changing the tax code and stripping regulations to create “a market in which almost everyone would be able to purchase relatively cheap, renewable insurance policies that protected them from the risk of catastrophic health expenses.” Telling tens of millions of Americans they’ll lose their insurance that covers basic medical expenses and get bare-bones policies with thousands of dollars in deductibles is not a winning play.

Raising Medicare eligibility age to 67 would cost patients twice as much as it would save the government

Medicare retirement age: Raising Medicare eligibility age to 67 would cost patients twice as much as it would save the government—don’t do it. – Slate Magazine:

The Kaiser Family Foundation has found that lifting the eligibility age from 65 to 67 would reduce federal spending by about $5.7 billion in its first year of full implementation. But that would be offset by $11.4 billion in spending by other parties. That includes $3.7 billion in higher costs for 65- and 66 year-olds, $4.5 billion from employers through company-sponsored insurance, $0.7 billion from state governments, and $2.5 billion in higher average prices for third parties once younger seniors are shifted out of the Medicare risk-pool and into the general population.

That’s an absurd means of saving the federal government money—akin to raising $12 billion in taxes and then setting half the money on fire. The only people who actually benefit from this shift are health care providers who get to charge higher prices to 65- and 66-year-olds.

Rather than shrinking Medicare, we ought to be taking advantage of the program’s lower costs. One way to do that would be to lower the retirement age—potentially all the way down to zero—and bring more people into the program. That would reduce system-wide costs but require higher taxes or bigger deficits. A more viable idea would be to bring back the “public option” concept that liberals were forced to drop from Obamacare. The idea here was that the new insurance exchanges that will be set up in 2014 should have an option that’s linked to Medicare and its payment rates. The Congressional Budget Office says such a public option could save the government about $68 billion in reduced subsidies over 10 years, while also reducing out-of-pocket costs. Alternatively, you could structure the option as a formal offer to let non-seniors “buy in” to Medicare with the same mix of personal funds and government subsidies that Obamacare envisions being used for private plans.

More important than how much the government spends on health care is how much everybody spends on health care. If you take people who normally would be on Medicare and force them to continue using private plans, their costs will be much, much higher. The reality is that having everyone be covered by Medicare/a public option would cost everyone less overall.

What’s Happening With Immigration Reform, Explained

naturalization process united states

What’s Happening With Immigration Reform, Explained | Mother Jones:

In the wake of a presidential campaign that saw Mitt Romney popularize the term “self-deportation” and President Obama clobber his rival among Latino and Asian American voters, Obama and the Senate’s bipartisan Gang of Eight have announced the broad strokes of their respective immigration reform plans, which aim to deal with the approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. We put together this primer to help you follow the debate now brewing.

An excellent summary of the major events in the immigration debate over the last few decades. Hopefully the compromises that are being talked about come to fruition.

Obama’s impact on the rich

Paul Krugman:

The Tax Policy Center — whose work I do trust — has the Act reducing the after-tax income of the top 1 percent by 1.8 percent, the top 0.1 percent by 2.5 percent.

Meanwhile, ATRA raises taxes relative to a continuation of the Bush high-end tax cuts: after-tax income down 4.5 percent for the 1-percenters, 6.2 percent for the top 0.1 percent.

Putting this together, we have a roughly 6 percent hit to the 1 percent, around 9 to the superelite. That’s only a partial rollback of these groups’ huge gains since 1980, but it’s not trivial.

Someone go get me the world’s smallest violin!